Matt Fowler (Elbow, Abhors0n, 1st Gentleman, Friar Peter) talks about his first experience with ensemble directing.
1) How do you typically go about preparing a Shakespearean character?
I work well with an outward-in approach to Shakespeare. How does my voice initially react to the script? How do I feel my body wanting to move to compliment my voice? I read each line 10 times, trying 10 different things for each one and then pick my favorite line read from each one. Then I read each line another ten times after I sleep and wake up again to solidify them in my memory. Is there something physical I want to try like a new walk or a new gesture? Be fearless! Quite honestly, the thing that has worked best for me is to start with a feeling; How do you want the audience to feel and how should you accomplish that? Ultimately when audience members forget an actor’s lines, name, or even what he or she looks like, they will remember the feelings the actor gave them for decades. I approach every role with a specific feeling that I want to share with the audience. Surprised? Amused? Excited? Anxious? Compassionate? There are a ton of options out there, and the way to share this feeling is not always apparent, but a solid goal in mind certainly helps me; as I’ve learned before, exhaust the ordinary to get to the extraordinary. The things that are most important at the end of the day are that I commit to a role 100% and that I take pride in a performance.
2) What do you find to be the most helpful part of PCSC’s standard rehearsal process?
This is my first experience with an ensemble directed show, and it is not quite how I expected it to be. The thing I learned most heavily in Measure for Measure is to become self-validated in my work instead of relying on the validation of others. I thought that an ensemble directed production would allow me to run wild and free With any impulse I have for a character, but I quickly discovered just how little confidence I have within my own inhibitions and fears. After listening to Rocky’s theme and being in a fighting montage, I got into the habit of challenging myself to discover more about my characters with restless disatistifatcion; I could pat myself on the back when performances came around. Now I am proud of the work I’ve done and I have learned a lot from this experience.
3) What do you do for fun outside of theatre?
I enjoy animating, backpacking, and going on epic adventures with this production’s stage manager, Erin Feiner.
4) What do you want to be your day job?
My dream is to become a motivational speaker. I want to speak to the young people of the world about self-esteem and body image issues. I think I’m just the right person to spread positivity and inspiration into the world.
5) What theatre plans do you have in the next couple months?
I will be appearing in Grand Valley State University’s Much ado About Nothing as Don John and Verges in the fall and I will be directing Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang right after.